December 2nd, 2003
|virtualpersonal||07:12 pm - By the dawn's early light|
I lift a glass of the most potent drink the place offers to my mouth and feel the fiery burn of the liquid all the way down my asophagus. Its my third one, and still, it hasn't done its job. But then perhaps nothing can burn away the memory of the atrocities of tonight. Mine.
It was a good thing Caritas was open late. I won't get any sleep tonight and I need to be someplace where there are people, and yet where I can be alone. Perhaps if I stay for a few more hours, I'll see the break of day when I leave. But will my crime then be written all over my guilty face and exposed to the light?
Seeing a tall, familiar shadow fall across the bar, I looked down into my glass, unable or unwilling to meet the gaze of a friend. "It finally happened. I crossed to a place from which I cannot return."
Current Mood: distressed
Willow's caught in her own worries right now, so I leave her to deal, just once more reminding her that I'm near if she needs me. Once I reach the bar Wes' words sound in my ears. I turn to him and smile before speaking.
"Well honey bunny we can none of us go back ever. Every day is full of lines we cross, lines we once swore we'd never cross... But the fact is peachpie we do..."
I order another drink and watch the colours dancing around him. Beautiful really, but of course he doesn't see that... "There's no way back you're right, but there is a way forward. You just got to find it... So, you want to tell me what you did that was so bad or do I have to guess?"
“Guess.” A bitter laugh erupted from the back of his throat. “I don’t think you could.” Nursing the drink, I watched the heavy liquid as I swirled it in the glass. Somehow, the steady motion gave me something to focus on.
Screams echoed in my mind. The clash of swords. The sounds of death. And the cry of a baby. A cold shiver went down my back. The sort you got when in the presence of a cold blooded killer.
“I separated a man from his child tonight. This man... he loved his child. Now I've condemned him to everlasting hell - damned to think about the child he’ll never hold again. I killed an innocent.” I finally forced myself to look at Lorne. Best that I get used to the condemnation in the eyes of friends and strangers. “I killed his child,” I repeated, in a strangled whisper.
Ok see now he's scaring me... As I listen to his words the emotions fly around, each one slapping me in the face as it passes by. I don't want to believe it, because this is Wes and that's the one thing he wouldn't... Surely he wouldn't... But then... Perhaps...
"Wesley talk to me, what the hell happened? Why would you? There had to be a reason surely... Please Wesley, talk to me..."
His pain stings me too... But what I'm getting is only the tiniest fraction of what he's feeling and I need to know... Need to help... "I know this is bad but I'm here ok... Just tell me what happened."
“I took a call. If it had come five minute later, I would have missed it.” Scenarios flashed through my mind. Reasons I might have left earlier. Problems with the phone lines. Anything that might have prevented me from getting on that telephone. But it was too late for wishes.
“The complaint was about high pitched wails that previously sent two people to the hospital. I determined the source of the problem might be a variation of the banshee demon. They sounded so desperate. God help me, I decided not to wait until I could track down Angel.” Another decision that could not be undone by wishes.
I scrubbed my face with my hands, then my hands on my jeans, but the blood stain visible to himself alone was permanently ingrained on them. “I went in. I was right. It was banshee demons - plural. There had been some digging in the wine celler, and these things were emerging from the hole. I had to stop them. The banshee are even more dangerous when they form a pack. I couldn’t let them.” I looked into Lorne’s eyes and admitted, “but the cost of stopping them was too high. I should have paid the price... not that child... and not the father.” I couldn’t help the fact that my voice held a desperate edge.
That's the main problem with the life we lead... There comes a time when all you see are the failures, the people who died cause you weren't fast enough, strong enough, smart enough... I feel his pain. Sure I'm no hero, these guys do that kind of stuff every day, me I point a few people in the right direction and go about my business, but I still know what it's like to see someone die because of something I didn't do... I still play out the other options in my head from time to time. The ones where her brains don't end up splattered over DeMarco's office wall...
But the fact remains pumpkin nuts that I did what I thought was right at the time... I thought the girl was in on it, there to make me agree... How the hell was I to know she wasn't?
And how the hell was Wes to know?
"Wesley, we do what we can. Not everyone can be saved, we do a lot of good in the world and you have to remember that you are not to blame for every single person who slips through the net... Should you have waited? Maybe, but really would Angel have made that much difference against a determined pack? And if you hadn't been there the family would have died anyway... This time you didn't make a difference... But hey... You tried sweetie and that's what counts..." He's closed himself off from me, damn that takes some effort, and I can see nothing other than what he's telling me. But I know one thing... I know I'm worried...
“Don’t you think I know that?” I demand.
More than ever before, I struggle not to show Lorne the darkness that resides inside me. More than ever... I feel the urge to give it up. The battle wages inside me, and I’m sure he can feel it.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.” I take a long swig of my drink, delaying my confession for a brief moment. “I killed the boy. Not the demons. Me.” My voice sounds harsh to my ears. I’m cold and shaking on the inside. I want to retch, but I can’t. God, when will this drink kick in and give me the numbness I crave? Or perhaps this is the punishment I deserve.
For a fraction of a second it's as if time is standing still, somewhere in my mind I wonder if Gene finally succeeded in freezing the moment... He didn't of course... Wesley did... It starts again suddenly as a flurry of questions fly into my mind buzzing around like horseflies... Why? How? A mistake right? He wouldn't? He couldn't?
I shoo the flies away and focus back on him. My heart is thumping like crazy. "You... But how... I mean why? Wes please tell me what happened... It was a mistake right? It was a mistake..." I'm trying to sound convinced and I guess I am... He took Connor but... Killed a child? Oh hell no... No? No...
“I thought I was being clever. Inventive. I rewired some sound-based destructive devices we’d taken off a bunch of Norca’Thua’s from the southern tip of the continent.” I couldn’t believe how dispassionate and neutral my voice sounded now. “It was quite simple really... and when I was done, instead of destroying by sonic waves, the devices pin pointed the wailing sounds of the banshee... targeted them, and sucked the life out of them.”
Until now, I hadn’t thought of what a painful death the device would have caused. I leaned forward and scrubbed my face with my hands, closing my eyes as if for protection from the memory of that moment. “It worked. I got rid of a lot of them. Then I heard sounds from one of the rooms, and I threw a device inside.” I looked up at Lorne, knowing he would see through my anguish. “It was a baby wailing. Not a Banshee. A baby. A small, defensless baby.”
A cold wave hits me as his words take shape. I close my eyes simply because I don't want to look at the pain in his eyes right now. But as my lids shut I see my own minds eye version of what just happened.
"Oh god Wesley, I'm so sorry..." What the hell else is there to say? Well quite a bit... "It was an accident Wesley, a tragic accident. There's no way you could have known. No way. And honey that baby would have died if you weren't there and most likely if Angel was with you too... The weapon was a damn good idea and Angel would have let you use it... You know he would. I'm sorry that this happened but it is NOT your fault. It's an accident, you did everything you could sweetie, you didn't cross a line. You did everything in your power to save some people who would have died if you didn't try to help..."
I get him another drink. I think this is gonna be a long night. For both of us... But he's a friend. And he's hurting...
“The baby was sick. They were giving him oxygen and the unit couldn’t be moved... that’s why they were desperate when they called. Everyone but the baby and his father had left the house.”
I noticed that a new drink had magically appeared in front of me. I greedily knocked it back. “Lorne, they bought the house because they had a child. He was a miracle child.” Wasn’t every child a miracle child? Wasn’t a person damned to hell every time he took a child from its parent? If they weren’t, they should be.
“They thought they’d never conceive or that it would make it to full term,” I whispered. “When it cried for its first breath... they must have been elated. And its last cry... it took his breath. No.... I took away his last breath.”
I wasn’t looking for pity. Or understanding. I didn’t want either. “I”m sorry for burdening you with this load. It wasn’t my intent... I just needed a place to sit and think.” I feel guilty. For taking up his time. For bringing him down. But mostly, for making him share my pain.
I feel like he's about to bail on me and that really isn't a good idea right now... "Hey... Last time I checked we were friends... And that means you can talk to me. I can't begin to imagine what this is like and hell, I'm not going to patronise you by pretending I have a clue, but honey, you CANNOT blame yourself for this. You can't. But I also know that nothing I say about that is going to make it happen overnight. Wes we all make bad choices. You didn't kill the baby, he died in an accident. An accident where you saved the other people in that house. For whatever it's worth, I don't hate you... I think you did what you could. And I'm here whenever you need me. I'm so sorry honey..."
He is wrong. I am to blame... if not me, then who? The father? The mother? The demons? I made the conscious choice to throw the device in the room. I was the one who failed to check the source of the wailing. Of course the fault lays with me.
I listen as he says he doesn't hate me. I run my finger over the rim of my glass. I want to tell him he should hate me. That if he were the father of that child, he would hate me.
But he is right about one thing. We are friends. "Thank you Lorne. I'm feeling better now," I lie through my teeth. I even manage a smile, and clap him on the shoulder.
"Wesley, in case you've forgotten... Psychic here... You're not feeling better at all. Hell I'd be worried if you were. Wes please. Let me call Angel, Fred, someone..." Hell I'd offer to let him stay here but the whole bisexual thing tends to make the straight guys think you're hitting on them... "You need to be with people right now sugar. It's ok to be upset about this... I'm here and you can talk just as long as you need to ok..."
My gaze locks with his. "Alright."
And the music continues to play. And the people still laugh. And the word still spins.